The family of four left from Šturlić (BiH) to Croatia on the 13th of July, 2019. In total, the group consisted of a couple with a girl (around 5) and the brother of the woman. They were all originally from Iran.
The group walked on their own, however during their time in the Croatian interior they saw several other groups in the Croatian forests. After ten days they crossed the river Kulpa on the Croatian/Slovenian border and continued on into Slovenia. They crossed it over a bridge during the night at which point the weather was rainy and foggy.
They walked for two more days for approximately seven kilometers in Slovenia at which point they ran out of food. At this point, the female group-member exited the forest to search for a local person to ask for food from. The individuals she came across gave her food however the respondent inferred that they also informed the police of their presence. One hour later, around noon on the 25th of July, the police approached the group and stopped them. The officers were described as a male and female, managing two police dogs. The respondent described the officers as “regular police” however the respondent inferred that one of them perhaps belonged to a different division because their uniform was slightly different and more black.
Upon their arrival, the officers told the group: “Sit down, don’t move. Do you have money or phone, knife, weapons or drugs in your bag?” They then began to search the group. During the process, the little girl of the family began crying. The officers then proceeded to confiscate their phones and money. Around this time, the adult group-members expressed their intention to claim asylum in Slovenia to which the female police officers communicated to the group that they would be able to seek asylum in Slovenia. After a while a car came and took them to a police station, likely in Črnomelj. The ride was about 30 minutes long.
In the station, the officers took the print of one finger of each group-member, including the child, and also took pictures of each group-member and forced them to sign a document according to which they had to pay a fine of 460 Euro. The papers that the group were made to sign were in Farsi and English.
There was also an Afghan-Slovenian translator present at the station who translated what the officers said from Slovenian to Farsi. The respondents mentioned that they had previously known the reputation of this translator. They mentioned that he is often present when Persian-speaking people in transit (from Iran and Afghanistan) are taken to Slovenian police stations. The translator was described at around 45 years old, with a shaved face, a slim physique, tanned skin and short, black hair. The respondents had the feeling that he was not translating correct or left out some parts of their responses to the police officers. They had the impression that he, for example, did not translate to the officers that the woman is pregnant.
The group reiterated their intention to claim asylum at this point:
“We asked the Slovenian police officers for asyl but they just lied to us. They said if you want asyl you must go to the capital, to Ljubljana not at the border. You can’t stay here you must come back to Bosna.”
The group then spent one night in a prison-like building near the police station. The single man of the group (brother of the sister) was brought into a room with other single men, mostly from Pakistan. The family had a room for itself. The room had a toilet and beds and in the night they were given food: Bread, some cold meat and water.
At around 7:00 am on the 26th July all peoplea, approximately 15 in total, were brought to vans. The single men were put into one van, the family into another. The van was driven very fast and reckless. Many became car sick. At the Croatian border, the groups were handed over to the Croatian police. The Slovenian police papers that they were forced to sign the previous day were withheld from them. At the Croatian border station, the Croatian police took the pictures, names and personal details of the groups and they all had to sign some papers. Afterwards they were brought to the police station of Delnice (HR). Where they had to wait inside of the van for 90 minutes.
“We told them that we are hungry, but they didn’t give us anything.”
Afterwards they were brought another location — a police station in Karlovac (HR). There, they had to wait another hour in the van. The respondents inferred that this may have been due to the presence of heavy rain at this point. Then, the van left for the Bosnian border. This ride took approximately one hour, during which the family was still with the group of single Pakistani men.
The group of four was pushed back on July 26th at around 8:00 pm close to Poljana (BiH) [coordinates: 45.21235, 15.92908] At the border, the Croatian police officers opened the door and told them to get out. They returned to the family their phones and their money before telling them to walk past a large cement border stone marking the border of Croatia, they then followed this path down through a forest area, passing another identical cement border stone marking the border of Bosnia. The group of Pakistani men was pushed back in the minutes following the family’s departure.
After 20 minutes on the road into Bosnia they met a journalist from Swiss TV and talked to her. She spoke with the group briefly and made several images of the group which are included below